It’s hard for me to think about my time at Northwestern without my mind wandering to my food Instagram, @thefoodiefriend. I started the account nearly four years ago in August, in part out of boredom; it was the summer before freshman year, and, in my first taste of the perils of the quarter system, I was spending my last summer days in my hometown alone, all my friends having headed off to start school weeks earlier than me. I’ve always loved trying new foods and restaurants, but it was that extra taste of isolation that pushed me to create an Instagram page and begin uploading photos tracking my culinary adventures.

Four years later and @thefoodiefriend has become a huge part of my identity. Whether I was living in a dorm room or an apartment, studying in Florence, Italy, New York, or Chicago, going to my freshman distros or senior formal, my Instagram has remained a constant. While the photo quality and captions have changed just like I have, the account has always tethered me to an appreciation for good food. My search for photogenic and delicious dishes allowed me to explore the amazing, diverse city of Chicago in ways I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve made countless new foodie friends, eaten delightful meals across the city and grown to view the restaurant industry with a sense of deep appreciation.

In a lot of ways, my time at Northwestern and my experience with the Chicago food scene are deeply intertwined. In a few weeks, I’ll be saying goodbye not only to college, but to this city and its food which was so often a source of solace for me during difficult times. I’m moving to New York at the end of the summer, and while I’m excited to immerse myself in a new city, I’ll miss Chicago dearly. Thus, in honor of the past four years of #EEEEEATS, here is a super non-definitive list of a few of my favorite spots.

Giant – It’s hard to pin down exactly what makes Giant so good. The team serves food that seems at once casual and refined, familiar and groundbreaking. Just make a reservation, order all the pastas and thank me later.

Roister – Roister serves some of the best food you can get in Chicago without paying for the $275+ a person reservation at Alinea (yes, it’s from the same wildly impressive Grant Alchatz-led team). Be sure to order the one-of-a-kind “Whole Chicken” entree.

Floriole – On the days when I couldn’t stand to be in Main library another minute, Floriole was my refuge. It’s a light-filled, bread-scented bakery in Lincoln Park with amazing food and a warm, welcoming vibe. As far as coffee goes, it’s a huge upgrade from Cafe Berguson.

Jeni’s – Jeni’s may technically break my cardinal rule of dining out (no chain restaurants), but for this Ohio-based scoop shop I make an exception. Jeni Britton-Bauer is a woman who continues to inspire and awe me with her impressive ice cream empire and socially conscious ice cream. You haven’t truly lived until you’ve tried a scoop of Brown Butter Almond Brittle or Rainbow Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt.

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You guys definitely know how much I love @jenisicecreams so I’m gonna keep it short and sweet. They’re 5th (!!) Chicago shop opened a few days ago at @parkatwrigley, and they’re throwing a grand opening party tonight at 7pm! Not only will they be serving FREE ice cream, but @jenibrittonbauer will be there!! She’s the coolest woman ever🤩 Pictured above: Popcorn! Peanuts! (New flav), Darkest Chocolate, and Cookies in Cream in a fresh waffle cone with a drizzle or salty caramel sauce and sprinkles 😋 ALSO a little FYI...Jeni’s isn’t paying me to say any of this, I just love them that much!!!🍦🍦🍦// Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Wrigleyville, Chicago #thefoodiefriend #freeicecream #jenis

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Bake – On a quiet street in Wicker Park sits Bake, a pastel-colored shop that’s home to the best sweets in Chicago. I’ve gotten beautifully decorated birthday cakes and sugar cookies, but my favorite thing on the menu is their chewy, Oreo-topped cookie.  

Honey Butter Fried Chicken – Is Honey Butter the best fried chicken you’ll ever have? Probably not. But the quaint picnic table-filled back patio is one of my favorite places to be on a nice summer night and the owners pay their staff a living wage so it’s a win in my book.